Read widely and often

13686397863_788745ee6c_zKaspa writes: The last time I posted on here I talked about writing lots and often. Today as I come to the end of a three week summer break I’ve been reflecting on the wisdom of reading widely.

Just before our break I went to our local library to get some holiday reading. I checked the opening hours before heading down and saw that the library was about to close. I jumped in the car, rather than walking, and when I arrived I stopped at the first table of books through the door: the new books. I picked some that looked interesting and vaguely literary without paying too much attention to what they were. There wasn’t even time for me to look through the Sci-Fi books as I usually do.

What a great crop of books I came away with. One of them was a little too odd for my tastes but the rest were excellent. I’ve just taken them all back so don’t ask me for the titles… I *might* be able to dredge them up from my memory later – I’ll let you know sometime 😉

I’ve also had time to dive into some poetry again which was wonderful. Old poets, new poets, English speaking poets, poets in translation. Good stuff.

To read widely is old advice but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good advice.

Sometimes I read for comfort, going back to old favourites. Sometimes when I’m feeling more spacious and relaxed I read to open my eyes a little wider.

Reading widely encourages empathy. We get to see the world from lots of different points of views. It can teach us about style, and give us permission to find our own way of writing when we see how many different choices authors make. It can teach us the impossibility of writing a book that pleases everyone, as we’re disappointed in a book all our friends have been raving about (or the other way around). It can show us how many different ways there are of exploring some universal human truths, and how each person’s experience of those universal truths is special and unique.

Libraries and independent book shops are great for introducing you to new writers. Unlike online shops they don’t have algorithms set up to feed you more of what you already love. In amongst the shelves of real paper books there is the possibility of something different and unexpected

Keep enjoying the books you already love – but take a chance on something new as well.


Image: reading rainbow by emily kneeter

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